PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan expressed regret on Wednesday for keeping September 11 families and players in the dark about the bombshell merger with Saudi-backed LIV, before vowing that loyal PGA members would be rewarded.
Speaking on The Golf Channel a day after he revealed the agreement that shocked the golfing world, Monahan expressed regret for not informing 9/11 families of the deal before it broke, stating “any hypocrisy I have to own.”
“In allowing confidentiality to prevail, I did not communicate to very important constituents, including the families of 9/11, and I regret that. I really do,” said Monahan.
“I feel like the move that we made and how we move forward is in the best interest of our sport. But for any difficulties I’ve caused on that front, I have to own that as well.”
The 9/11 Families United coalition’s chair, Terry Strada, said “PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed. Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan.”
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington were Saudi nationals.
Similar words came from PGA players in a meeting with Monahan on Tuesday at the Canadian Open, but Monahan defended himself by saying the end — huge Saudi investment in the PGA Tour and an end to golf’s civil war — justified the means.
“To be able to take someone that has been an aggressive competitor over the last two years, and to have that entity be a productive minority investor is very exciting,” Monahan said.
“The PGA Tour is in a control position with a productive investor. We’ve got a lot of flexibility in our business.
“When anybody looks three, five, 10 years down the road, I firmly believe, I’m confident, that those results will be delivered.”
Monahan said that without the secrecy, the unification might not have happened.
“When you get into conversations like this there needs to be confidentiality,” Monahan said.
“If you start opening this up and asking opinions and sharing where this is going, ultimately it’s going to be very difficult for us to get to the result that we’ve gotten to.
“It was important I work alongside our board and pursue what we thought was best for the PGA Tour and maintain that confidentiality. If it hadn’t been that way I’m not certain we would have gotten to this result.”
Part of the deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and PGA Tour included ending their legal fight, but after wiping out a rival, the PGA remains the subject of an anti-trust investigation by the US Department of Justice.
“We’re creating more opportunities for players through this announcement,” Monahan said. “We’re confident in our position as it relates to the DOJ investigation.”
Asked when a restructured PGA-LIV-DP World Tour framework might be revealed, Monahan said only, “We’ve got a lot of work to do before I can be more specific.”
The same was true for his promise to reward PGA Tour players who did not leave for rich LIV Golf deals, who reportedly included Tiger Woods, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, the most vocal PGA defender who said Wednesday he was “never offered any money” but could have expected riches had he jumped to LIV.
“Their loyalty will be rewarded,” he said. “Loyalty as a leader always needs to be rewarded. How that manifests itself is something I’m going to be working on. Down the road that’s something I look forward to being more specific about.”
Monahan, who said he would try to rebuild trust through conversations with players, said the deal was not a move to save the PGA Tour from losing a potential protracted fight with deep-pocketed Saudi rivals.
“No, this was an opportunity to unify the game, put the PGA Tour in a control position,” he said. “It’s going to benefit our members and benefit our game.
“Financially looking forward, it puts the PGA Tour in the most secure position possible.”